Layoffs piling up for Shasta County Courts


REDDING, Calif. - The Superior Court of Shasta County announced Friday it has handed out more than a dozen layoff notices, and officials said it's a result of state budget cuts combined with a recently enacted law eliminating rainy day funds for trial courts.

14 court employees learned Friday their last day of work will be September 25.

Combined with the layoff of 12 temporary employees before the 2014-15 fiscal year began and the freezing of 18 vacant full-time positions, the total number of positions recently impacted is now 44.

The financial squeeze felt in Shasta County is one seen up and down California.

Since 2008, state budget cuts to trial courts have totaled some $1.1 billion, according to Shasta County Court Executive Officer Melissa Fowler-Bradley.

On top of the cuts, a state law recently went into effect which said trial courts can no longer keep a rainy day fund, as they had done to offset deficits since the economy took a dip in 2008.

"In the past two fiscal years, where we tried to set aside money to get through the recession, the ability to do that was eliminated as of June 30, 2014," Fowler-Bradley said.

Fowler-Bradley also said the layoffs are coming at a time of a rise in criminal cases, which is stretching the court thin and preventing them from effectively handling non-mandatory work.

"We have fewer staff to deal with other case types like small claims matters or family law matters or probate matters or adoptions or all of the other case types we process," Fowler-Bradley said, "I have fewer people in order to serve the public on everything other than criminal."

What's more, Fowler-Bradley can't guarantee that the recent round of layoffs will prevent them from further cuts when the next budget cycle comes around.

"If there are further reductions or some of this money isn't restored by the governor or the legislature then I guess I'll have to face that next year, but it's a pretty scary thought because I think our services to the public this year are going to be drastically reduced."